Imagine if the worst thing you ever said at work was posted online for the entire world, including your customers and employees, to see. After the dust settled would you still have a business?
You might easily dismiss this as something that would never happen to you, but this is a risk that every brand faces. If you use electronic devices to communicate, there’s a digital record of nearly everything you do. And whether it be a private email between employees or a celebrity’s pictures stored in the cloud, we’ve learned from countless incidents that they aren’t always safe.
In 2015, electronic giant Sony experienced one of the costliest and most embarrassing hacks of private communications of the last decade. More than 170,000 emails were hacked and posted publicly to Wikileaks. This massive leak included communications from Sony CEO Michael Lynton, fellow company executives, producers, movie stars, and others. The emails kicked off a media frenzy that forced Sony to deal with the aftermath.
“I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie,” said producer Scott Rudin of Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie. Rudin publicly apologized soon after the leak, and Jolie, like many other celebrities mentioned in the emails, were contacted repeatedly by media outlets to respond. Sony’s entire business was disrupted. The hack was estimated to cost Sony’s movie studio somewhere around $100M.
Regardless of Sony’s ability to continue operations and produce blockbuster films after spending tens of millions of dollars and time on this mess of a hack, do you believe the high-profile movie stars who suffered from the embarrassment and disruption of this leak will ever trust Sony again?
Sony, Facebook, Tesla, Uber, Yahoo and many others have experienced hacks and leaks that could have been prevented. Whether caused by an employee intentionally sharing private information, an accident, or a security glitch, communication leaks are extremely costly.
Even if your business isn’t quite on the same scale as Sony, you’re not any less vulnerable. You work hard to serve clients, beat out the competition, and stay up to date with advancements in your industry and technology. You can’t afford to leave your internal communications accessible to the world.
Emails and private communications are not the only types of information that are at risk of being leaked or hacked.
What information does your company have access to?
If you run an accounting firm or other professional service business, you have all kinds of sensitive information on hand:
Personal client details
Employee names and addresses
Usernames and passwords
Credit and debit card numbers
Social security numbers and EINs
Confidential financial statements
Even when you understand how important security is and the consequences of not properly protecting all your information, you may be asking, “Where does the risk lie in my business?”
The answer is complicated. The short answer is that anywhere information is stored, there are risks that someone who should not have access to it will be able to infiltrate and steal that information.
Every employee, network, and each device used to access and interact with sensitive information must be protected. This requires intentional effort and proactive planning.
While not every company ill-prepared to handle an attack will be attacked, an attempt or accidental leak can only happen if there are vulnerabilities.
Secure communication can serve as more than a fail-safe for your business—it can be an asset and even a competitive advantage. No company, customer, or employee wants to fear that their personal and private information will be shared without their consent. Protecting this information and communicating how it is protected will build trust and provide peace of mind to every client and potential client.
When the fear of leaks and hacks is gone, clients, employees, and your partners will be able to focus on building a beneficial relationship with you rather than worry about their information being safe.
Although leaks and hacks have led to some of the biggest companies in the world losing millions of dollars, countless clients, and the trust of the public, you don’t have to. These incidents have shown the importance of security and having processes in place to protect sensitive information.
Leaks and hacks don’t happen when information and communication is secure and out of reach of hackers and common mistakes.
Where does your company stand in the fight against leaks and hacks? Take time today to analyze your efforts against these threats.